Modern software development environments and design practices facilitate a significantly better user experience.
Gone are the days of products requiring thick training manuals and extensive effort to master complicated interfaces. Now, the measure of a product is how quickly – and only with minimal outside assistance or training – a new user becomes proficient.
In the best case scenario, the features and functionality of a product are entirely discoverable – the user, left entirely to her own devices, becomes an expert with no outside guidance.
The reasons behind this significantly better customer experience are three-fold:
- Newer technology offers a better environment to design elegant solutions.
- Expectations are higher: the understanding of what is not just possible, but expected, has been redefined.
- Best practices in the fields of User Experience and Product Management have significantly professionalized software design.
On this third point, no longer is product design based on rigid, long-range planning predicated on “needs requirements” and detailed, premeditated feature specifications. Rather, the product evolves based upon iterative development cycles involving frequent customer feedback. (For further background on how we approach product discovery and design, check out prior posts here and here.)
The most successful products distill the needs of a broad range of customers to find common ground, with the resulting product appearing insightful: a well-designed product often solves problems that customers themselves could not articulate well, or solve identified problems in unexpected, but elegant, ways.
For well-designed software, this serves as a powerful selling point. One of the primary sales objections is often: “this looks great, but we don’t have the time to learn new software.” The easy answer is compelling: the right product provides efficiency right out the gate. And, to back this up, existing customers serve as enthusiastic references.
Indeed, it’s a virtuous cycle – insightful software begets a happy (and growing) customer base.